Wildlife Question


My sister-in-law Carole Carnes was walking the beach (Estero Island) Sunday morning (yesterday) and took the sad photo. I wanted to make sure you got it. Will it be tested to see why it died?

Christy Hennessey


Editors Note: We reached out to FWC with your question. Officer Stuart Spoede responded and explained how FWC handles animal fatalities on the beach. He said with a manatee or other threatened or endangered species, typically the FWC will do a necropsy (animal autopsy). The large hammerhead in the photo was the victim of a fisherman and was on tackle when found. Often he explained, large fish like this, take so long to get to shore that the fish is exhausted and dies. So, while the angler may have planned to catch and release, by the time the fish is reeled in to the beach, it cannot survive and the fisherman abandons it. The FWC will also do necropsies if a mass casualty situation occurs, like the beached pilot whales seen in our area in 2014.

Other readers have asked about the FWC response to alligators found on the beach. Spoede told us that if the gator is under 4 ft, and is captured by the FWC, they may be able to relocate it. If larger than 4 ft, a Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program (SNAP) contractor is called. Larger gators are euthanized. Spoede explained that there is no location where they could be released that does not already have a gator population, so releasing one would cause fighting within that population or the migration of more gators into areas they don’t belong. Read more about SNAP at bit.ly/SNAPgators